This is my 4 1/2 year old son, Evan. Evan was diagnosed with ASD (autism spectrum disorder) at 18 months old.
Evan has always been a flight risk. He bolts and runs away if we don't have a hand on him or if he can find an open door he is gone. It takes a lot to take him outside the house or to keep him inside the house for that matter. Our house is getting new door locks as he has conquered the last locks we installed and we are in the process of building a backyard fence. If he gets away from me, he just runs. He doesn't respond to his name or stop so if he gets away from me it is a race to see if I can catch him before he reaches anything dangerous. Evan has no concept of danger and no fear of injury.
Evan has a great love of water. Statistically 70% of kids w/ autism that wander off are found in water drown. We live near a creek and a pond and found that if Evan gets away from us will run to a bridge that is about 3/4 mile from our home. My husband followed him one day to see where he would go if no one was holding onto him. He ran up our driveway, down our road, turned onto the next road and straight to the bridge. He gets to the bridge grabs some rocks off the ground and swings his leg over the bridge rail. If my husband wouldn't have been there to grab his belt loop he would have been in the water. It was still cold in Wisconsin and the water would have been freezing. It was an eye opener for my husband and me. It would only take a matter of a couple minutes of him out of our sight for him to become one of the 70% that drown.
I contacted our local Sheriff's Department last fall and asked about GPS tracking for families that has neurological disorders, Alzhiemers or Autism after learning that several of the more populated counties surrounding ours had a GPS Tracking Program. They had never heard of it. I was panicked. I knew that Evan was getting bigger, growing faster and he can defeat almost any barrier we put up between him and outside. I had also just learned that our tillable acreage near our home would have corn planted in it this year.
After some research, the Lafayette County Sheriff called me back and wanted me to know that they are trying to raise funds for 12 GPS trackers for our county. The cost to implement the program is $6000. As parents or caregivers if you have ever had that panic, sick to your stomach, can't breathe feeling when your child or loved one is in danger or wanders away, you have felt the way I feel far too often. It is horrible to live in fear, because sometimes it's just fear and you forget to live. I'm hoping that we can get this program put into place so that 12 families can breathe a little easier and live a little more.
If you would like to donate:
Lafayette County Sheriff's Department
P.O. Box 148
Darlington WI 53530
Please put "Care Trak and Evan Hawkinson" in the memo.
To Contact the Lafayette County Sheriff's Department w/ questions directly:
(608) 776-4870 (Sheriff Scott Pedley)